“I feel hunched over, like a monkey!” is a common response to an Alexander teacher’s guidance into an ACTUAL upright stance. In the picture on the left, this student’s back and pelvis have been guided to provide support for her neck and head — but she feels “tipped over”. When asked to stand in her usual way (on the right), she reverts to LEANING BACKWARD, pushing her hips and abdomen forward, which puts enormous pressure on her low back and vital organs.
We become accustomed to our habitual ways of standing, of moving, of living in the world. When guided or invited into something new and different, it “feels weird” — which is why Alexander advised against using “feelings” as a gauge. Instead, I tell students to gauge any change by the effect it has on the breath: Where can you breathe easier, in the weird place or in your usual stance? There’s no better measure of life force, and it always benefits from better overall coordination and relationship with gravity.